Moving can be expensive, whether you're buying a house in the same city or relocating across the country. We've already explored how you can save money while moving locally, but what about those long distance moves that are hundreds or thousands of miles?
Some of the tricks for moving locally also apply when making a cross country move, but we've also got some great tips on saving money on more epic journeys. Sit back, enjoy the scenery and let us guide you through the best ways to save money when you're relocating to another part of the country.
1. Decide if you're going to move yourself or hire a moving company
Do you want to rent a truck and do the move yourself, or use a professional moving company to reduce the stress of moving?
There are pros and cons to both approaches. If you want to move yourself over a long distance, you will need to:
- Downsize so you don't have too many possessions to move
- Hire a truck if you have too much to fit into your car
- Plan for times to take a break from driving or sleep
- Be ready for a long and stressful journey
Although you will likely save money over the cost of a moving company, you should figure in the time you will need to spend packing, loading, unloading and driving. You may also want to buy insurance for your possessions while you're traveling, in case anything gets damaged.
It's true that a mover will cost more, but you're getting a complete service and can focus on all the other tasks that are part of a move. In most cases, we believe that the additional cost of a long distance move will be offset by time savings and convenience.
Even if you do hire a mover to relocate you, you can still save on those mover costs by packing up your home yourself -- it's often expensive to have a mover pack for you.
2. Research long distance movers and find out which ones have the best rates
If you're going to hire a mover, they will be the biggest chunk of your moving costs. That's why it's vital to ask around and contact a few different companies to find out who has the best rates.
- Starting to look for long distance movers well before you need them and booking them well in advance
- Asking people in your own city who have made a long distance move what their recommendations are
- Asking people in the location you're moving to what their recommendations are
- Researching movers and whether they provide long distance moving services
- Shortlisting relevant long distance movers and getting an approximate price from each one
- Negotiating on a price, discounts or additional services, if you can
- Finalizing a fixed price from your top three long distance movers
3. Plan your long distance move at the right time
It's important to book your move in advance, but you can also get discounted rates at certain times of the year. If your move is not time-critical, talk to your movers about their quiet periods and when they could give you a break on pricing.
Typically, you will get better rates if you move during the colder months, avoiding the holiday season -- October to November.
4. Work out if you need or want moving insurance
Moving insurance can be a great way to protect your valuables during a trip, but it can also be quite costly. Look into whether you need to purchase moving insurance, as some movers may provide it as a standard part of their services. If you do want to buy movers insurance, call up your broker and see who offers the best premium, and what's covered -- costs can vary widely, so purchase wisely.
5. Work out the best way to make trips to save money
There are a few options you can explore for more cost-effective moving, these include:
- Savings from making one long trip in a bigger vehicle compared to multiple smaller vehicles: You may need to downsize to fit everything in, or pay a little more for a bigger moving truck, but there are likely to be cost savings overall.
- Driving vehicles yourselves versus auto shipping: You can save a significant amount by driving your own car rather than paying an auto transport company to take it for you.
- Budgeting for overnight stops: For truly epic journeys, you may be on the road long enough that you'll need to stop to sleep. Book your accommodation in advance, and you can likely get better rates.
6. Take advantage of relocation packages that can help to offset costs
It's possible that you can get assistance when you're relocating across the country, either from your employer or from your new city.
Employers who ask employees to relocate, either through moving operations or as the result of a promotion or career move, will often pay for part or all of the cost of relocating. Talk to your HR department about employee assistance programs for relocation. Even if they don't pay towards relocation, they may offer an interest-free loan or other support.
Some areas are looking for boosts to their local economies and will often pay you to relocate there. Although these change all the time, some options available in late 2018 are:
- Hamilton, OH gives students some relief on their student loans
- Detroit, MI guarantees a salary to college graduates for a year
- Burlington, VT will pay up to $10,000 to certain types of workers who move there
- Colorado provides lots of homeowner assistance programs to encourage people to relocate
- Baltimore, MD offers awards of $5,000 or more towards the cost of moving and buying a home there
7. If you run your own business, you may be able to expense office related expenses
For freelancers and the self-employed, you are no longer able to write off part of your moving expenses as business deductions, but you are able to deduct home office related expenses. The IRS has fairly stringent rules around this, so we recommend speaking to your accountant.
We hope you've found this guide to saving money on long-distance moves helpful. Remember that we can help you find the best priced movers for any type of move you need to make.